On October 28-29, the congregation of Saint Paul in Odesa celebrated its 220th anniversary. Its history began with the appointment of the first pastor Christian Heinrich Pfersdorff in 1803 for the already existing congregation of evangelical believers in Odessa, whose congregants were mainly German settlers.

The celebration began with a grand opening on Saturday, October 28. Honorary Consul of Germany in Odesa Oleksandr Kifak, Deputy Director of the Department of Culture, Nationalities and Religions of the Odesa Regional State Administration of Nationalities Yaroslav Reznikova and Mykhailo Kornakov on behalf of the city authorities, congratulated the congregation on its anniversary. Also Roman Krat on behalf of the Odesa-Simferopol Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, Fr. Roman Dorosh on behalf of the Odesa Diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Natalia Teryekhova on behalf of the Odesa People’s Church and associate professor of the I.I. Mechnikov Odesa National University Natalia Bevzyuk.

After that, two lectures opened the plenary part of the All-Ukrainian scientific-practical conference «Church and faith as a life attitude of a free person”. The first lecture, titled «Martin Luther and German translations of the Bible» was presented by Dmytro Tsolin, doctor of philology, professor of the Ukrainian Catholic University and vicar of GELCU. He delved into the history and methodology of Luther’s epoch-making work on the translation of the Holy Scriptures.

Another speaker of the plenary part was a historian and researcher of the evangelical movement in Western Ukraine, Vladyslav Fedyuk. The title of his lecture was «The Faith and Deeds of Pastor Teodor Zekler», and it covered interesting details the history of the evangelical church in Galicia and Prykarpattia during the times of Austria-Hungary and the Second Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A prominent figure in church life at that time was pastor Teodor Tsekler, who served in Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk).

Vladyslav Fedyuk

On Sunday the sessions of the conference continued.

At 5:30 p.m., the ecumenical prayer for a just peace began with the participation of the pastor of the Evangelical Church of Bremen Andreas Hamburg, who for many years served as the pastor of the congregation of St. Paul, a representative of the leadership of the GELCU and the pastor of the congregation of St. Martin (Kyiv) Ihor Shemigon, and Arne Bjolt, a deacon of the congregation of Rostock (Germany), who is now a volunteer in the congregation of St. Paul. Oleg Shevchenko, pastor of the fraternal Lutheran congregation of the Holy Cross, was invited to do the benediction. Bishop of the Odesa-Simferopol Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church Sviatoslav Shirokoradiuk gave a congratulatory speech.

On Sunday, October 29, the festive service was held in St. Paul’s Church with the preaching of Andreas Hamburg. During the service, the audience heard greetings from those who did not have the opportunity to be present in person: former church councillor Klaus Röpke, who played a major role in the revival of the infrastructure of the Lutheran church in Odesa, the designer of the church hall and the parsonage artist Tobias Kamerer, former ministers of the congregation Klaus Ulrich , Oleksandr Zhakun and others. In response, everyone present recorded a general video expressing their gratitude.

Gratitude to friends and partners

After lunch, there was a presentation of the New Ukrainian Translation of the New Testament and the Book of Psalms edition, created at the initiative of the international mission Biblica. The presentation was conducted by Dmytro Tsolin, who translated the Book of Psalms for this edition. Everyone had the opportunity to take home one copy of the book as a gift.

Dmytro Tsolin presents New testament in contemporary translation

The conference ended with a round table discussion on «Lutheranism as a way of life».

As always, celebrations in the congregation also have a cultural element. On the afternoon of October 28, the Municipal Concert Band performed a special program of German music. In the evenings of both days of the celebration, guests enjoyed organ concerts of German classics, performed by musicians and vocalists under the leadership of the organist of St. Paul’s Church, Veronika Struk. The guests were also invited to visit an art contest “Buried Giant» and the exhibition «Material Culture of the Black Sea Germans”.